Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Bush Speaks on Fighting Terrorism
Aired September 7, 2006 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're so with that.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Got to love them.
HARRIS: All right. Good morning, everyone. Watch the news unfold live in the CNN NEWSROOM. It is Thursday, September 7th.
Good morning, Heidi.
COLLINS: Good morning, Tony. And hi to you, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.
September security drive. President Bush live this hour from right here in Georgia. His fourth terror speech in eight days.
The prime minister cleared for departure. Britain's Tony Blair makes plans to move out of number ten.
And Phoenix police make a huge arrest. Have they finally caught a notorious serial killer?
HARRIS: Take a look at these pictures right now. Air Force One on the ground. You will see in a moment -- that is the governor of Georgia, Sonny Purdue, waiting for the arrival of the president. Air Force One on the ground. The president will deplane shortly.
The president arrives at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. That's in Cobb County, Georgia. That is a county just north of Fulton County. And Atlanta, of course, is in Fulton County. We are waiting for the president to deplane. Just minutes away from the Cobb Galleria where, Heidi, he will give us his fourth and final speech in the series of speeches over the last week and a half on terrorism. When the president deplanes, we will show you that picture live. And when the speech begins on about 10:20 a.m. Eastern Time, we will, of course, bring that to you live.
COLLINS: Hand-over in Iraq. Iraq's prime minister today signed a deal to take command of the country's military forces. Iraq will take control of its eighth army division, as well as its small naval and air forces. A U.S. military spokesman called the ceremony a huge significant event. It is still not clear when Iraqi force will be prepared to take over their own security. The timing is key to any eventually draw down of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Meanwhile, black smoke rising over Baghdad today. A suicide car bomb goes up in flames outside a fuel station. One of the several attacks in the capital targeting police. At least 19 people were killed.
Also today, four bodies were found dumped in different Baghdad neighborhoods. The killings are believed to be part of ongoing Sunni/Shiite violence.
He is embroiled in a nuclear standoff with the west. Now he's coming to America. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to visit New York. He is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly on September 19th. That is the same day President Bush is scheduled to deliver a speech to the world body.
In between the two speeches, the adversaries are expected to attend a VIP lunch hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Mr. Ahmadinejad is challenging President Bush to a debate during his U.N. visit. No immediate response yet from the White House, but it dismiss a previous debate offer from the Iranian leader.
HARRIS: And right on cue, let's take you back now to the Dobbins Air Reserve Base. This is in Marietta, Georgia, in Cobb County, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. The president arriving here in Georgia to give the fourth and final speech in his series of speeches on terror. The president will make his way just a short distance to the Cobb Galleria.
This last speech coming just days before the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Our understanding is that the president will discuss the Patriot Act, the benchmark piece of legislation passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The president meeting there with, among other people, the governor just a moment ago, Sonny Purdue. Senator Saxby Chambliss there as well.
The Patriot Act, enacted in 2001. It reauthorized a sheer (ph) as part of the U.S.A. Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005. The president has long maintained that the Patriot Act has been a vital tool in waging the war on terror and protecting all of us by uncovering terror cells and disrupting terror plots. Now the criticism of the act has been that it provides just too much power to the government and it makes it far too easy for the government to spy on Americans. And in doing so, those provisions cut deeply into personal liberties and privacy rights. Once again, the president landing at Dobbins Air Reserve Base to make the short trip over to the Cobb Galleria for his speech scheduled at about 10:20 a.m. Eastern Time. Well, today's speech is the fourth, as we mentioned, in a series focused on the war on terror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will continue to bring the world's most dangerous terrorists to justice. And we will continue working to collect the vital intelligence we need to protect our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: That speech delivered yesterday was the third in a week and it grabbed the most headlines. For the first time the president acknowledged the CIA runs secret prisons overseas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world the United States does not torture. It's against our laws and it's against our values. I have not authorized it and I will not authorize it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: All three speeches have touted national security, what Republicans see as their strong suit. Here's an excerpt from Tuesday's speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: This is the great ideological struggle of the 21st century and it's the calling of our generation. All civilized nations are bound together in this struggle between moderation and extremism. By coming together, we will roll back this great threat to our way of life. We will help the people of the Middle East claim their freedom and we will lead a safer and more hopeful world for our children and our grandchildren.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Well, it's no coincidence that midterm elections are just two months away. Polls show voters are growing more dissatisfied with the president and his handling of the Iraq War. Last Thursday, Mr. Bush repeated his theme, Iraq is a front line in the war on terror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror and that depends on victory in Iraq. So the United States of America will not leave until victory is achieved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: President Bush on the road on topic. Minutes from now, the president will speak in suburban Atlanta. His subject, a laundry list of security changes he's made to combat terrorism. Kathleen Koch is traveling with the president.
Kathleen, good morning.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Tony.
And the president is expected to address a crowd of roughly 600 supporters here at the Cobb Galleria Center in Atlanta. And as you mentioned, it's the fourth in this series of what the White House considers very important speeches in the war on terror. The point of it very much to frame the debate, as you mentioned, going into the midterm election. The Republicans believe that security, the war on terror, is an area where they're very strong and certainly where they poll very high. That's where they want to focus. Not on Iraq, not on the economy where the Democrats tend to poll much higher.
And what we're hearing from a very short briefing that Tony Snow, White House press secretary, gave to reporters on board Air Force One is that this is going to be a progress report of sorts. The president looking back over the five years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and talking about some of the security gaps that existed, the actions that he says the administration has take since then to fix them. And also the very important tools that the administration has utilized. As you mentioned earlier, the Patriot Act, the tools that the president will say have been very instrumental in preventing other terror attacks that might have otherwise occurred here on U.S. soil.
And we're told also by Snow that the president will look to the future. Will talk about other improvements that could be made in terrorist surveillance programs, actions that he would like to see Congress take. So that, again, is the sort of speech we're going to be hearing from the president in roughly 11 minutes.
Back to you, Tony.
HARRIS: And we will, of course, have that for you live. Kathleen Koch with the president in just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
Kathleen, thank you.
Hey, why don't we do this. Let's take a closer look at the Patriot Act. Here's what we do know. It was enacted just 45 days after the 9/11 attacks. It lowered the institutional barriers between law enforcement and the nation's intelligence agencies. And most notably, it broadened their powers for secret surveillance in terror investigations.
COLLINS: To another topic now. There's been lots of speculation this morning about the future of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Moments ago he refused to set a date for his resignation. Our Robin Oakley joins me now from Downing Street in London.
Robin, what's the latest here?
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Heidi.
Well, it's not Downing Street, in fact. Tony Blair has been up at a school in north London talking about education policy. But he had promised while he was fulfilling this function to name the timetable for his departure. And he will have disappointed some of his MPs who had been looking for a specific date when he was going to step down as labor party leader and prime minister. Tony Blair says he won't do that yet. We heard from the prime minister a little bit earlier in rather more general terms than that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The next party conference in a couple of weeks will be my last party conference as party leader. TDC next week will be my last TDC. Probably to the relief of both of us. But I'm not going to set a precise date now. I don't think that's right. I will do that at a future date and I'll do it in the interest of the country and depending on the circumstances of the time. Now that doesn't in any way take away from the fact it's my last conference, but I think the precise timetable has to be left up to me and to be done in the proper way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OAKLEY: So what we know, Heidi, is that he's going within the year. Before the next labor party conference due in September 2007. But he's not being any more precise than that. It looks, though, as though peace may start breaking out in the labor party after all the turmoil because Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the financier (ph), the man expected to succeed Tony Blair, has said this is a decision that's up to Tony Blair and he will back him. So it looks as though he's calling off his troops and there will be not quite so much pressure on Tony Blair to go on a precise date yet.
COLLINS: All right. Robin Oakley, thanks for the very latest on that.
It does bring up the question, though, who is Gordon Brown? Brown is currently the British finance minister. He has his eye on number 10 Downing Street, as you just heard, and is widely seen as the successor to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Also as the next leader of the labor party.
Blair supporters have accused Brown of plotting a coup. If Blair stepped down ahead of time, it could give Brown plenty of time to establish himself and perhaps give his labor party an advantage against conservatives in the next election.
HARRIS: John Bolton, the eyes and ears of the United States at the U.N. for the past year, he's the ambassador, but he's never been formally confirmed by the Senate. Bolton is expected to win approval from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. That will pave the way for a confirmation vote from the full Senate. President Bush temporarily put Bolton in the job last year while Congress was in recess. That move after Democrats repeatedly block a vote. Let's listen to some of the debate back then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, (D) CONNECTICUT: The U.N. needs reform. There's no debate about that. The question is, who can help us get it done? If we're sending someone who lacks the support of the Congress, the Senate of the United States, what message does that send to member states of the U.N.?
SEN. NORM COLEMAN, (R) MINNESOTA: I don't put any credence into the claim that somehow he'll be less effective or weakened. And John Bolton is not a guy to be weakened, by the way. He's a strong voice. That's what the president wanted. That's what America needs right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: The Capitol Hill debate ongoing even as we speak. Well, Senator Dodd says he will keep up the fight to get Bolton out of the U.N. Of course, this is Senator Lugar.
Still ahead, we are just minutes away from the president's fourth speech. Fourth and final speech on terror. Scheduled to begin at 10:20. And we know the president is -- hopefully he's on time and often early. So we're going to try to sneak in a quick break and bring that to you as soon as it happens.
COLLINS: Yes, he's on the ground. We saw that a little bit earlier. So we know he's probably very much on time.
COLLINS: Backing off, though (ph) Israel is about to end its punishing blockade on Lebanon. Live to Beirut just ahead in the NEWSROOM. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
HARRIS: And this Monday, September 11th, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, CNN Pipeline will play CNN's original coverage, uncut, unedited, as it happened live on CNN five years ago. Log on to cnn.com. We'll be right back.
COLLINS: All right. We are awaiting this press conference. Well, not press conference, I would say.
COLLINS: It looks a little bit like a press conference scene.
HARRIS: It feels like it.
COLLINS: But he's right here in our neighborhood, here at the world headquarters of CNN in Atlanta. We have President Bush. Yes. And he will be up in Cobb County. Just a few minutes from where we are sitting in this studio.
Flew into Dobbins Naval Air Reserve Base today, just moments ago. Whisked on over to the Cobb Galleria where he will be speaking about the Patriot Act. It has been quite an issue for people on both sides of the fence talking about their rights and so forth and also protecting and defending America. So we will listen into that speech in just a few minutes from now and have it all for you.
HARRIS: Well, the coast will soon be clear. Israel is less than an hour away from lifting its air and sea blockade of Lebanon. Our Anthony Mills reports on its crippling effects. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANTHONY MILLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Lebanese ship workers march through downtown Beirut to a sit in at Lebanon's parliament. Protesting a continuing Israeli blockade of Lebanon's port where boats sit idol, cranes are unmanned, and sailors and dock workers have nothing to do.
AYMAN SABER, SAILOR, (through translator): There's been no work for two months because of the current situation. Two months.
MILLS: Beirut's airport remains under virtual blockade as well. Runways bombed by Israel during the war with Hezbollah have been repaired and the airport is officially open but only a handful of planes fly in and out.
When war erupted, Lebanon was at the height of a roaring summer tourist season. But for the past seven weeks, the cafes and restaurants of this popular downtown Beirut street have been almost deserted.
Billboards next to a highway through Beirut's Hezbollah controlled southern suburbs proclaim the outcome of the war a divine victory for Lebanon. Some Lebanese politicians, especially on the Christian side of the sectarian divide, are unconvinced.
DANY CHAMOUN, NATIONAL LIBERAL PARTY LEADER: In my book it was whole disaster, especially for Lebanon and for the Lebanese population as a whole. With the embargo and all the rest of it, the whole country is suffering.
MILLS: On the streets as well, rumblings of discontent. In Beirut's northern Christian suburbs, posters here attack Hezbollah backers, Iran and Syria. Bill Faddoul is an unemployed carpenter who drives a cab to make ends meet. He, too, questions the idea of a divine victory.
BILL FADDOUL, TAXI DRIVER: How could it be a victory when you see all the devastation, you know, out here. It's just crazy. It's just crazy. A victory for some people, for some influential people, but not for Lebanon.
MILLS: He went on to tell me that like many Lebanese, he would leave the country immediately if he could. A United Nations report says the war cost Lebanon $15 billion in damage and lost revenues. As the country prepares to rebuild again, many of the Lebanese who don't support Hezbollah say they have little faith in the future.
HARRIS: And Anthony Mills joins us now.
Anthony, a quick question for you. The blockade, was this, practically speaking, really about blocking shipments of arms into the country of Lebanon or was it practically a defacto economic sanction program against the country? MILLS: Well, the stated aim, Tony, was indeed to block the alleged supply flow of arms of Hezbollah arms into Lebanon destined for Hezbollah. But the effect was certainly one of an economic blockade. Lebanon was losing hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. The flow of economic goods in and out of Lebanon had come to a virtual standstill.
The only ships in the port were humanitarian aid ships. And the only routes in and out of Lebanon were over land. And, of course, they, too, were very difficult to negotiate because of Lebanon's smashed infrastructure. So the end effect, whatever the stated aim, was one of tremendously negative economic proportions.
HARRIS: And, Anthony, how does this move the political process forward?
MILLS: Well, it certainly paves the way, if you will, for a satisfaction of the central demands that Israel has been making throughout the course of the conflict. Israel has said that it would lift the blockade when certain monitoring processes were in place. And despite the fact that certain high ranking Lebanese officials have told me they think the blockade was lifted because of pressure applied by Lebanon, I've been told by other high ranking government officials here that it's because it is now realized by Israel, by the United States, that Lebanon really is putting in place the mechanisms that it needs to really survey and monitor those borders and ports.
HARRIS: Anthony Mills for us in Beirut.
Anthony, thank you.
COLLINS: And it looks like President Bush has taken to the podium. You see him there on the other side of your seen. So we're going to go ahead and listen in just as soon as that applause stops. There's some people introducing him. We know Governor Sonny Purdue. You see him there on the right. Introducing him as well.
This is the fourth, as you are probably well aware if you're keeping track, of the president's war on terror speeches. Yesterday he made quite a speech. Sort of laying out all of the details, bits and pieces of information, that he believes they have gotten from all the information and those detainees that they have. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed one of them that the president referred to quite a bit in that speech. And I think on both sides of the fence, people had been surprised by some of the information.
COLLINS: And Republicans say it was quite a bit of a shot in the arms. Democrats saying that they still need to take time to review Mr. Bush's proposal as far as what will happen. HARRIS: Yes. And it was quite a remarkable speech, it must be said, yesterday, Heidi, in that previously classified information, as to the information that the government was learning from these high- value detainees, some of that information was disclosed, declassified and we were able to learn some of what the interrogators, the folks from the CIA, the questioners, have been able to learn from these high-value targets.
HARRIS: And moving forward, just days ahead of the 9/11 anniversary, the fifth anniversary of those horrible attacks on this country . . .
HARRIS: Interesting that the president will use this final speech.
HARRIS: You see the governor of Georgia, Sonny Purdue, now.
COLLINS: He also said that he very much appreciated the families, the victims' families' patience in these five years.
COLLINS: Some people asking the question, why did it take so long to get this kind of information and to bring these criminals to justice, which we are still waiting to see exactly what that justice will be, of course. But maybe we will learn more on the Patriot Act. The big issue today.
HARRIS: And while we have a moment, let's listen in now to the governor of Georgia, Sonny Purdue.
GOV. SONNY PURDUE, GEORGIA: Heart and the courage to confront our enemies abroad. He understand the urgency of defending our borders. And his quiet faith in the American people is absolute. Our president has demonstrated his commitment to the security of our country and to the promise of freedom across the globe with a steadfast resolve.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's always an honor to welcome the president to Georgia and especially this president, George W. Bush. Help me welcome the president of the United States.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all very much. Please be seated.
(APPLAUSE) Sonny, thanks for the introduction. Thanks to your leadership. It's always a pleasure to be in Georgia.
I appreciate you coming.
And I appreciate this chance to speak here before the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. And I thank you for what you do.
For 15 years, you've been researching and writing on issues that matter. You take on tough questions, you apply innovative thinking, you push for action, and you do it all without regard to politics. Come on up to Washington.
I have come here to Atlanta to continue a series of speeches marking the fifth anniversary of the September the 11th, 2001, attacks.
Last week at the American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, I outlined the ideological struggle between the forces of moderation and liberty and the forces of extremism across the Middle East.
On Tuesday in Washington, I described our enemies in their own words and set forward a strategy to defeat them.
Yesterday, I announced that the men we believed orchestrated the 9/11 attacks had been transferred to Guantanamo Bay and I called on the United States Congress to pass legislation creating military commissions to bring these people to justice.
Today, I'll deliver a progress report on the steps we have taken since 9/11 to protect the American people, steps we've taken to go on the offense against the enemy and steps we are taking to win this war on terror.
Today I traveled with two United States senators who clearly see the issues before us. And I appreciate and am proud to be associated and friends with Senator Saxby Chambliss and Senator Johnny Isaacson.
I do think thank Brenda Fitzgerald for encouraging the Board of Governors to invite me...
... and for taking the lead for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. And I want to thank the Board of Governors for your kind invitation.
I appreciate very much being with Major General Terry Nesbitt. He's the director of the Georgia Office of Homeland Security.
Joining us today is a man I got to know quite well under trying circumstances. And that would be Lieutenant General Russ Honore of the United States Army.
He issued one of the great lines I've ever heard -- and you're welcome to use it -- "Don't get stuck on stupid."
It's good advice for people in Washington, D.C.
I welcome the other state and local officials here. Thank you all for letting me come by.
In Atlanta, you know the pain of terrorism firsthand. This summer, you marked the 10th anniversary of the bombing in Centennial Olympic Park. That was the act of one madman.
Next Monday is the fifth anniversary of an attack on our nation. And on that day, we awoke to a new kind of terrorism. And instead of a localized strike, we faced multiple attacks by a network of sophisticated and suicidal extremists.
In the years since, we've come to learn more about our enemies. We've learned more about their dark and distorted vision of Islam. We've learned about their plan to build a radical Islamic empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia. We learned about their dreams to kill more Americans on an even more devastating scale; that's what they have told us.
As president, I took an oath to protect this country. And I will continue using every element of national power to pursue our enemies and to prevent attacks on the United States of America.
Over the past five years, we have waged an unprecedented campaign against terror at home and abroad. And that campaign has succeeded in protecting the homeland.
At the same time, we have seen our enemies strike in Britain, Spain, India, Turkey, Russia, Indonesia, Jordan, Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. We've seen that the extremists have not given up on their dreams to strike our nation.
Just last month, police and intelligence officers from Great Britain, with the help of the United States and other allies, helped break up a terrorist cell in London. Working together, we foiled a suicide plot to blow up passenger planes on their way to the United States.
Many Americans look at these events and ask the same question: Five years after 9/11, are we safer?
The answer is yes, America is safer.
We are safer because we've taken action to protect the homeland. We are safer because we are on the offense against our enemies overseas. We're safer because of the skill and sacrifice of the brave Americans who defend our people.
Yet five years after 9/11 America still faces determined enemies. And we will not be safe until those enemies are finally defeated.
One way to assess whether we're safer is to look at what we have done to fix the problems that the 9/11 attacks revealed. And so today I'll deliver a progress report.
The information about the attacks in this report is largely drawn from the work of the 9/11 Commission and other investigations of the terrorist attacks.
I'll begin by looking back at four key stages of the 9/11 plot, the gaps in our defenses that each stage exposed, and the ways we've addressed those gaps to make this country safer.
In the first key stage of the 9/11 plot, al Qaeda conceived and planned the attacks from abroad.
In the summer of 1996, Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa from Afghanistan that said this: "By the grace of Allah, a safe base here is now available." And he declared war on the United States.
A month later, the Taliban seized control of Kabul and formed an alliance with al Qaeda.
The Taliban permitted bin Laden to operate a system of training camps in the country, which ultimately instructed more than 10,000 in terrorist tactics. Bin Laden was also free to cultivate a global financing network that provided money for terrorist operations.
With his fellow al Qaeda leaders, Osama bin Laden used his safe haven to prepare a series of attacks on America and on the civilized world.
In August 1998, they carried out their first big strike: the bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, which killed more than 200 people and wounded thousands.
Shortly after the embassy bombings, bin Laden approved another attack. This one was called the Planes Operation. Our intelligence agencies believe it was suggested by a fellow terrorist named Khalid Sheik Mohammed, or KSM. KSM's plan was to hijack commercial airliners and to crash them into buildings in the United States. He and bin Laden selected four preliminary targets: the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the Capitol Building and the White House.
The Planes Operation would become the 9/11 plot. And by the middle of 1999, KSM was at work recruiting suicide operatives to hijack the airplanes.
The first stage of the 9/11 plot exposed serious flaws in America's approach to terrorism. Most important, it showed that by allowing states to give safe haven to terrorist networks that we made a grave mistake.
So after 9/11, I set forth a new doctrine: Nations that harbor or support terrorists are equally guilty as the terrorists and will be held to account.
And the Taliban found out what we meant. With Afghan allies, we removed the Taliban from power and we closed down the al Qaeda training camps.
Five years later, Taliban and al Qaeda remnants are desperately trying to retake control of that country. They will fail.
They will fail because the Afghan people have tasted freedom. They will fail because their vision is no match for a democracy accountable to its citizens. They will fail because they are no match for the military forces of a free Afghanistan, a NATO alliance and the United States of America.
Our offensive against the terrorists includes far more than military might. We use financial tools to make it harder for them to raise money. We're using diplomatic pressure. And our intelligence operations are used to disrupt the day-to-day functions of al Qaeda.
Because we're on the offensive, it's more difficult for al Qaeda to transfer money through the international banking system. Because we're on the offensive, al Qaeda can no longer communicate openly without fear of destruction. And because we're on the offense, al Qaeda can no longer move widely without fearing for their lives.
I learned a lot of lessons on 9/11, and one lesson is this: In order to protect this country, we will keep steady pressure, unrelenting pressure, on al Qaeda and its associates.
We will deny them safe haven. We will find them. And we will bring them to justice.
Key advantages that al Qaeda enjoyed while plotting the 9/11 attack in Afghanistan have been taken away. And so have many of their most important leaders, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
For the past three years, KSM has been in the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency. He's provided valuable intelligence that has helped us kill or capture al Qaeda terrorists and stop attacks on our nation.
I authorized his transfer to Guantanamo Bay. And the sooner the Congress authorizes the military commissions I have called for, the sooner Khalid Sheik Mohammed will receive the justice he deserves.
In the second key stage of the 9/11 plot, KSM and bin Laden identified, trained and deployed operatives to the United States.
According to the 9/11 Commission, two of the first suicide hijackers to join the plot were men named Hazmi and Mihdhar. KSM's plan was to send these two men to infiltrate the United States and train as pilots so they could fly the hijacked planes into buildings.
Both operatives attended a special training camp in Afghanistan and then traveled to Malaysia and Thailand to prepare for their trip to America.
KSM doctored Hazmi's passport to help him enter the United States. And from Thailand, the two men flew to Los Angeles in January of 2000.
There, they began carrying out the plot from inside our nation. They made phone calls to planners of the attack overseas. And they awaited the arrival of the other killers.
Our intelligence community picked up some of this information. CIA analysts saw links between Mihdhar and al Qaeda, and officers tracked Mihdhar to Malaysia.
Weeks later they discovered that he had been accompanied by Hazmi and that Hazmi had flown to Los Angeles.
This gave the CIA reason to be suspicious of both these men. Yet at the time, there was no consolidated terrorist watch list available to all federal agencies and state and local governments. So even though intelligence officers suspected that both men were dangerous, the information was not readily accessible to American law enforcement, and the operatives slipped into our country.
Since 9/11, we've addressed the gaps in our defenses that these operatives exploited. We've upgraded technology. We've added layers of security to correct weaknesses in our immigration and visa systems.
Today, visa applicants like Hazmi or Mihdhar would have to appear face-to-face for interviews. They would be fingerprinted and screened against an extensive database of known or suspected terrorists. And when they arrived on American soil, they would be checked again to make sure their fingerprints match the fingerprints on their visas.
Those procedures did not exist before 9/11. With these steps, we made it harder for these -- people like these guys to infiltrate our country.
9/11 also revealed the need for a coordinated approach to terrorist watch lists. So we established a common criteria for posting terrorists on a consolidated terrorist watch list that is now widely available across federal, state and local jurisdictions.
Today, intelligence community officials would immediately place terrorist suspects like Hazmi and Mihdhar on a consolidated watch list. And the information from this list is now accessible at airports, consulates, border crossings, and for state and local law enforcement.
By putting terrorist names on a consolidated watch list, we've improved our ability to monitor and to track and detain operatives before they can strike.
Another top priority after 9/11 was improving our ability to monitor terrorist communications. Remember, I told you the two had made phone calls outside the country. At my direction, the National Security Agency created the terrorist surveillance program.
Before 9/11, our intelligence professionals found it difficult to monitor international communications, such as those between the al Qaeda operatives secretly in the United States and planners of the 9/11 attacks.
The terrorist surveillance program helps protect Americans by allowing us to track terrorist communications, so we can learn about threats, like the 9/11 plot, before it is too late.
Last year, details of the terrorist surveillance program were leaked to the news media, and the program was then challenged in court. That challenge was recently upheld by a federal district judge in Michigan. My administration strongly disagrees with the ruling. We are appealing it and we believe our appeal will be successful.
Yet a series of protracted legal challenges would put a heavy burden on this critical and vital program. The surest way to keep the program is to get explicit approval from the United States Congress. So today I am calling on the Congress to promptly pass legislation providing additional authority for the terrorist surveillance program, along with broader reforms in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
When the FISA was passed in 1978, there was no widely accessible Internet and almost all calls were made on fixed land lines. Since then, the nature of communications has changed quite dramatically. The terrorists who want to harm America can now buy disposable cell phones and open anonymous e-mail addresses. Our laws need to change to take these changes into account. If al Qaeda commander or associate is calling to the United States, we need to know why they're calling. And Congress needs to pass legislation supporting this program.
In the third key stage of the 9/11 plot, the rest of the 19 al Qaeda operatives arrived in the United States.
The first two hijackers in America, Hazmi and Mihdhar, had given up flight training. So Khalid Sheik Mohammed selected operatives from a cell in Germany to become the new pilots.
These men, led by Mohammed Atta, obtained visas and they traveled to the United States and then they enrolled in flight training schools. Atta and his team visited airports and flight training centers along the East Coast, including here in Georgia.
Atta was pulled over by police. On his way, one of his co- conspirators, the terrorist who would go on to pilot flight 93, was also stopped. Yet there was no information that the men were dangerous so the officers treated the encounters as routine traffic stops.
By September the 10th, the hijackers had moved to their final destinations near major airports and were ready to execute their attacks.
As these terrorists finalized their plans, al Qaeda dispatched another operative named Moussaoui to the United States. Moussaoui took flight lessons in Oklahoma and Minnesota. He communicated with an al Qaeda leader abroad. But he remained isolated from the other operatives and was not a suicide hijacker on the day of the attacks; he didn't participate in the 9/11 attacks.
During this stage, law enforcement and intelligence authorities failed to share the insights they were learning about the 9/11 plot.
For example, the FBI intelligence analyst working at the CIA came across information that raised her suspicions about Hazmi and Mihdhar. But she did not relay her concerns to FBI criminal investigators because of a wall, or the wall, that had developed over the years between law enforcement and intelligence.
You see, throughout the government, there was an assumption that law enforcement and intelligence were legally prohibited from sharing vital information.
At one point, key officials from the CIA, the intelligence branch of the FBI, the criminal branch of the FBI were all sitting around the same table in New York. But they believed that the wall prohibited them from telling each other what they knew about Hazmi and Mihdhar. And so they never put the pieces together.
By the summer of 2001, intelligence about a possible terrorist attack was increasing. In July, an FBI agent in Phoenix noted that a large number of suspicious men were attending flight schools in Arizona. He speculated that this activity might be part of a bin Laden plan to attack inside the United States.
In the following month, the FBI field office in Minneapolis began an investigation into Moussaoui. He was soon arrested on immigration charges and Minneapolis agents sought a FISA warrant to search his computer.
FBI headquarters turned them down, saying the case did not justify a FISA request because there was not enough intelligence tying Moussaoui to a foreign power.
The FBI later learned that Moussaoui had attended an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, but the information didn't arrive until September the 13th.
It is clear after 9/11 that something needed to be done to the system, something needed to be changed to protect the American people. And it is clear to me that this started with transforming the FBI to ensure that it effectively and quickly respond to potential terrorist attacks.
And so now the top priority of the FBI since 9/11, the culture of that important agency full of decent people, has changed. The top priority is to protect the American people from terrorist attack.
The bureau has hired large numbers of counterterrorism agents and analysts that are focusing resources on what they need to do to protect America.
They created a unified national security branch to coordinate terrorist investigations. They expanded the number of joint terrorist task forces. The bureau is submitting more FISA requests in terrorist cases.
In other words, they understand the challenge, and the FBI is changing to meet those challenges. The FBI is responding to terrorist threats like Moussaoui more quickly, more effectively and more -- and with more resources.
At every level, America's law enforcement officers now have a clear goal: to identify, locate and stop terrorists before they kill again. Since the attacks, we've also worked with Congress to do something about that wall that prevented intelligence and criminal investigators from talking to each other. The wall made no sense. It reflected an old way of thinking.
And so, I called upon Congress to pass a piece of legislation that would tear down the wall, and that was called the Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act has increased the flow of information within our government and it has helped break up terrorist cells in the United States of America. And the United States Congress was right to renew the terrorist act -- the Patriot Act... (APPLAUSE)
... the terrorist prevention act called the Patriot Act.
We created the National Counterterrorism Center, where law enforcement and intelligence personnel work side by side in the same headquarters.
The center hosts secure video teleconferences every day that allow for seamless communication among the FBI, the CIA and other agencies. Now officials with critical threat information are sitting at the same table and sharing information.
We created the position of the director of national intelligence to operate the intelligence community as a single, unified enterprise. We set up the terrorist screening center, which maintains the government's master list of suspected terrorists and helps get this information in the hands of state and local law enforcement.
Today, a police officer who stops a driver for a routine traffic violation can access terrorist watch lists and be automatically directed to the terrorist screening center if there's a match.
We learned the lessons of September the 11th. We're changing how people can work together. We're modernizing the system. We're working to connect the dots to stop the terrorists from hurting America again.
The fourth and final stage of the 9/11 plot came on the morning of the attack.
Starting around 6:45, the 19 hijackers, including Hazmi and Mihdhar, checked in, cleared security and boarded commercial jets bound for the West Coast. Some of the hijackers were flagged by the passenger pre-screening system, but because the security rules at the time focused on preventing bombs on airplanes, the only precaution required was to hold the operatives' checked baggage until they boarded the airplane.
Several hijackers were also carrying small knives or box cutters, and when they reached the security checkpoints they set off metal detectors. The screeners, you know, wanded them but let them board their planes without verifying what had set off the alarms.
When the flights took off, the men hijacked each plane in a similar way: They stabbed or subdued the pilots and crew, they seized control of the cockpit, and they started flying the airplane.
By 9:03 a.m., the hijackers had driven two of the flights into the World Trade Center. By 9:37, they had struck the Pentagon. And shortly after 10 a.m., the fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. The passengers realized what was happening, and they rose up against their captors. These brave passengers saved countless lives on the ground. They likely spared the Capitol or the White House from destruction. And they delivered America its first victory in the war on terror.
We have taken many steps to address the security gaps that the hijackers exploited that morning.
We created the Transportation Security Administration to ensure that every passenger and every bag is screened. We increased the number of federal air marshals on domestic and international flights. We trained and authorized thousands of pilots to carry firearms. We hardened cockpit doors to prevent terrorists from gaining access to the controls.
We merged 22 government agencies into a single Department of Homeland Security and tripled spending for homeland security on our airlines, on our ports and our borders and other critical areas.
We will continue to provide the resources necessary to secure this homeland.
Even if all the steps I have outlined this morning had been taken before 9/11, no one can say for sure that we would have prevented the attack.
We can say that if America had these reforms in place in 2001, the terrorists would have found it harder to plan and finance their operations, harder to slip into the country undetected, and harder to board the airplanes and take control of the cockpits and succeed in striking their targets.
We are grateful to all those who have worked to implement these important reforms. We're grateful to our federal and state and local law enforcement officers who are working tirelessly to protect our country. We're grateful to all the intelligence and homeland security and military personnel.
Together, these dedicated men and women are keeping their fellow Americans safe. And Americans are proud of their important service to our country.
On the morning of 9/11, we saw that the terrorists have to be right only once to kill our people, while we have to be right every time to stop them.
So we had to make a larger choice about how to respond to the threats to our country.
Some suggested our efforts should be purely defensive, hunkering down behind extreme homeland security and law enforcement measures. Others argue that we should respond overseas but that our actions should be limited to direct retaliation for 9/11.
I strongly disagree with both approaches. 9/11 lifted the veil on a threat that is far broader and more dangerous than we saw that morning: an enemy that was not sated by the destruction inflicted that day and is determined to strike again.
To answer this threat and to protect our people, we need more than retaliation, we need more than a reaction to the last attack. We need to do everything in our power to stop the next attack.
And so America has gone on the offense across the world, and here are some of the results.
We've captured or killed many of the most significant al Qaeda members and associates. We've killed Al Qaida's most visible and aggressive leader to emerge after 9/11: the terrorist Zarqawi in Iraq.
We've kept the terrorists from achieving their key goal: to overthrow governments across the broader Middle East and to seize control.
Instead, the governments they targeted, such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, have become some of the most valuable allies in the war on terror.
These countries are joined by the largest coalition in the history of warfare: more than 90 nations determined to find the terrorists, to dry up their funds, to stop their plots and to bring them to justice.
This coalition includes two nations that used to sponsor terror but now help us fight it: the democratic nations of Afghanistan and Iraq.
In Afghanistan, President Karzai's elected government is fighting our common enemies. And showing the courage he's showing, he's inspired millions across the region.
In Iraq, Prime Minister Maliki's unity government is fighting al Qaeda and the enemies of Iraq's democracy. They're taking increasing responsibility for security of their free country.
The fighting in Iraq has been difficult and it has been bloody, and some say that Iraq is a diversion from the war on terror. The terrorists disagree.
Osama bin Laden has proclaimed that the Third World War is raging in Iraq. Al Qaeda leaders have declared that Baghdad will be the capital of the new caliphate that they wish to establish across the broader Middle East.
It's hard to believe that extremists would make large journeys across dangerous borders to endure heavy fighting and to blow themselves up on the streets of Baghdad for a so-called diversion. The terrorists know that the outcome in the war on terror will depend on the outcome in Iraq. And so to protect our citizens, the free world must succeed in Iraq.
As we fight the enemies of a free Iraq, we must also ensure that al Qaeda, its allies and the extremists never get their hands on the tools of mass murder.
When we saw the damage the terrorists inflicted on 9/11, our thoughts quickly turned to the devastation that could have been caused with weapons of mass destruction. So we launched the Proliferation Security Initiative, a coalition of more than 70 countries that are cooperating to stop shipments related to deadly weapons.
Together with Russia, we're working on a new global initiative to combat nuclear terrorism.
We worked with Great Britain to persuade Libya to give up its nuclear weapons program, and now the components of that program are secured right here in the United States.
We uncovered the black market nuclear network of A.Q. Khan, who was shipping equipment to Iran and North Korea. That network is now out of business.
And now the world is uniting to send a clear message to the regime in Tehran: Iran must end its support of terror, it must stop defying its international obligations and it must not obtain a nuclear weapon.
Our enemies have fought relentlessly these past five years and they have a record of their own.
Bin Laden and his deputy Zawahiri are still in hiding.
al Qaeda has continued its campaign of terror, with deadly attacks that have targeted the innocent, including large numbers of fellow Muslims. The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq have killed American troops and thousands of Iraqis.
Syria and Iran have continued their support for terror and extremism.
Hezbollah has taken innocent life in Israel and succeeded briefly in undermining Lebanon's democratic government.
Hamas is standing in the way of peace with Israel. And the extremists have led an aggressive propaganda campaign to spread lies about America and incite Muslim radicalism.
The enemies of freedom are skilled and they are sophisticated. And they are waging a long and determined war. The free world must understand the stakes of this struggle. The free world must support young democracies. The free world must confront the evil of these extremists. The free world must draw full measure of our strength and resources to prevail.
We see that full measure and the strength of this nation in the men and women in uniform who fight this war and who have given their lives in the cause of liberty and freedom.
One of these soldiers was a young lieutenant named Noah Harris who was killed last summer in Iraq when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb.
Noah grew up here in Georgia. He graduated from the University of Georgia. He volunteered for the Army after September the 11th, 2001. He told his dad that people had an obligation to serve a cause higher than themselves.
In Iraq, Lieutenant Harris was an officer known for his toughness and his skill in battle and for the Beanie Babies that he carried with him to hand out to the Iraqi children.
He was also known for the photo of his parents' home in Ellijay that he used as a screensaver on his computer. When his troops asked why he chose that picture, he explained, "That is why I'm here."
Lieutenant Harris understood the stakes in Iraq. He knew that to protect his loved ones at home, America must defeat our enemies overseas. If America pulls out of Iraq before the Iraqis can defend themselves, the terrorists will follow us here at home.
The best way to honor the memory of brave Americans like Lieutenant Harris is to complete the mission they began. So we will stay, we will fight and we will win in Iraq.
The war on terror is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. And we're only in its opening stages.
To win this struggle, we have to defeat the ideology of the terrorists with a more hopeful vision. So a central element in our strategy is the freedom agenda.
We know from history that free nations are peaceful nations. We know that democracies do not attack each other, and that young people growing up in a free and hopeful society are less likely to fall under the sway of radicalism.
And so we're taking the side of democratic leaders and reformers across the Middle East, we're supporting the voices of tolerance and moderation in the Muslim world, we're standing with mothers and fathers in every culture who want to see their children grow up in a caring and peaceful world.
And by leading the cause of freedom in a vital region, we will change the conditions that give rise to radicalism and hatred and terror, we will replace violent dictatorships with peaceful democracies, we will make America, the Middle East and the world more secure.
In the early days after 9/11, I told the American people that this would be a long war, a war that would look different from others we have fought, with difficulties and setbacks along the way. The past five years have proven that to be true.
The past five years have also shown what we can achieve when our nation acts with confidence and resolve and clear purpose. We've learned the lessons of 9/11 and we have addressed the gaps in our defenses exposed by that attack. We've gone on the offense against our enemies and transformed former adversaries into allies. We have put in place the institutions needed to win this war.
Five years after September the 11th, 2001, America is safer. And America is winning the war on terror. With vigilance, determination, courage, we will defeat the enemies of freedom and we will leave behind a more peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com